493.11N15/287: Telegram

The Minister in China (MacMurray) to the Secretary of State


83. 1. Following from the American members of the Nanking Separations Commission:

“Commission has verified and assessed all American claims other than the following:

(1) The American Government Claim. Chinese Commissioners in letter January 2855 have quoted instructions sent to British Commissioners by British Minister under date of November 16, 1928 (see our despatch of December 3155), and have renewed request that the American Government take similar action in presenting its claims in the same detailed form as private claims. American Commissioners will make no reply pending further instructions. In addition to total stated in Shanghai’s telegram No. 325 of October 31, noon, Navy personnel [Page 860] claims totalling American $339.30 and Mexican $97 have been received by the American Commission from the Nanking Consulate which states copies were at same time transmitted to Legation which it is presumed will include such claim in notification supplemental to notification November 7, 1928.

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2. Chinese Commissioners were duly notified of the Department’s No. 315 of last September 17, 4 p.m.,56 in reference to interest on claims and informally questioned proposal but stated that matter would be referred to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a ruling. Later the Chinese Commissioners intimated that at least some compromise on the Department’s proposal might be reached, this leading American Commissioners to hope for eventual success. To clarify such highly unsatisfactory status of the case, American Commissioners have persistently pressed for definite reply as to the attitude of the National Government but the Chinese Commissioners with equal insistence have plead their inability to obtain definite statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

American Commissioners in support of the Department’s proposal have informally cited cases, while Chinese Commissioners have cited 1911 revolution claim settlement when interest was waived. However, this waiver was the result of special action taken in misericordia. This morning all hopes for satisfactory solution of the matter were ended when Chinese Commissioner Young orally informed American Commissioners that instructions finally had been received from his Government and that Chinese Commissioners definitely cannot agree to payment of interest on any claim. When again pressed for written statement in the matter, Young with reluctance finally promised to go on formal written record as to the position of the Foreign Office and has just submitted letter reading in part as follows:

‘We feel that the undertaking of the National Government to make compensation in full for all personal injuries and material damages does not include the payment of interest which question was never brought up during the negotiations which led to the Federal Government settling the Nanking incident.’

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7. Respecting paragraph (1) of section 1, the Legation in a telegram instruction of January 15th authorized the American Commissioners to reaffirm their position that, under the identic note issued to the American and Chinese Commissioners by their respective Governments, they are to accept and approve the American Government’s claim as presented and that it is therefore not within the competence of the Commission in any way to question this claim.

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  1. Telegram in eight sections.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Foreign Relations, 1928, vol. ii, p. 359.